Fun with fabric at Paris menswear shows

PARIS: Tokyo-based French designer Julien David made his men’s catwalk debut Wednesday at the Paris menswear shows with a casual but elegant streetwear-inspired collection, as other shows capitalized on color, fabric and patterns.

Up-and-coming David, who has lived in Japan since 2006 and skateboards to relax, said the collection was all about subtle combinations.

“It’s about mixing streetwear and high end with the placement of pockets, of a waist, these kinds of details,” he told AFP.

“I find it interesting to make a suit with only a shirt and no jacket. It is kind of a street suit.”

His autumn-winter 2013/14 collection, shown to barely 80 people in the rooms of a labyrinthine apartment in the chic Marais quarter, teamed cropped flannel trousers with unstructured three-quarter-length coats.

Wool jersey leggings also featured heavily with reversible bomber jackets and brightly colored check shirts.

Underlining the wearability of the pieces, 34-year-old David had them modeled by “real people” who wandered into his castings.

The street vibe continued with Mugler as creative director Nicola Formichetti, best known as Lady Gaga’s stylist, and designer Romain Kremer sent out a uniform-dominated collection “fusing street and ceremony.” Bathed in white light, pink-lipped, heavy-booted models with slicked-back hair marched to a pounding beat.

“The trinity of tailoring, aeronautical and military regalia forms Mugler’s most diverse garderobe (wardrobe) to date,” the house said.

Slim-fitting but accessible suits alternated with body armor-style tops in acid pink and bright militaristic ensembles that looked more suitable for the crew of a spaceship.

Valentino, meanwhile, decided to adopt a very British air next winter with plenty of check – hound’s tooth and Prince of Wales – to warm things up.

Against a palette of mostly navy, gray and black, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s collection featured injections of red and green as well as wide strips of leather just above waist level and touches of fur to highlight a lapel or collar.

Heat-bonded leather bands crossed traditional raincoats and recurred as mysterious-looking black paneling on mid-thigh overcoats, while some of the black leather coats and suit jackets had a sensual, rubbery quality.

“As a man, you know a suit, but you can have a different point of view,” Piccioli said after Wednesday’s fall-winter 2013-2014 show.

Raf Simons, artistic director of Dior’s womenswear collections, rounded off the first day of the shows with his own label creations.

Opening the show, a model in satin pants clutched a black and white striped hat at his side. He marched past in a coat that harked back to the Napoleonic era – through its A-line shape, and long cravate-like collar tied in a knot.

With subtlety, 45-year-old Simons thus took the codes of the early 19th century and served them up with a bright and youthful feel for his fall-winter 2013-14 offering.

The Belgian designer emphasized necks through large pointed pink, blue and yellow collars – shirts often on top of turtlenecks which ruffled in a dandy style. This mixed imaginatively with strong and wide open collars – that again added the feeling of exuberant layering.

Shoulders, too, were given emphasis. Long colored horizontal bars on the front, which joined the shoulders, worked brilliantly – and resembled the straps that held a cape in place.

But Simons is a master of subversion. There were no capes here, and though many of the looks harked back to yesteryear, they remained contemporary and in the spirit of his intellectual style.

A recurrent motif was a knitted face on a geeky-looking sweater; instead of hair, it sported a question mark. The designer will present his haute couture collection for Dior Monday.

Designer Kim Jones turned out an effortless, luxury collection for Louis Vuitton’s fall-winter 2013.

He came down to ground level, bringing with him lashings of fur and the Asian region’s snow leopard as a motif. This accompanied the fashion house’s bread-and-butter sharp suits in a muted palette underneath the wintry outerwear.

But it was the snow leopard who stole the show – whether in needle punched jacquard on a light double-breasted coat, or in collars, neckties and pocket squares, and even in one show-stopping laser-cut mink coat – the sky-high feline kept popping up.

Furs made a comeback; the program notes listed some six different pelts: astrakhan, sheepskin, shearling, shaved beaver, fox used on blousons, overcoats and parka trimmings – and as lining.

Louis Vuitton shows are often exhaustive.

The final part included sumptuous prints in silk and cashmere on tuxedos and nightgowns thanks to a collaboration with Turner Prize nominees the Chapman Brothers, who fused baroque floral print with Himalayan traditional arts.

Carven designer Guillaume Henry channeled a day in the life of the suited city businessman – on the subway and at the office – for his show.

The set – a sanitized post-WWII office, with a bare desk, a filing cabinet and an old-fashioned contacts folder – nicely set off Henry’s elegant, retro 1950s suits for his menswear preview in Paris.

In Carven’s fantastical world, these were no ordinary businessmen: Many of the models were also decked out for mountain expeditions.

Henry has not forgotten his trademark sense of humor. A suit jacket was complemented with a worked flannel hood while a fleece collar was added to an office-going overcoat.

His palette of mottled grays, navy and camel contrasted with bright sporty colors like red, green and royal blue.

His men’s office wardrobe also saw traditional fabrics like mottled flannel, banker stripes and oxfords spruced up with neoprene and technical fabrics. A suit pant – daringly for winter – was cut to mid-calf.

Dries Van Noten set himself a tough challenge for fall-winter 2013, aiming to produce clothes for men “that may not ever been in their wardrobe.”

Considering that one main theme of the show was the use of nighttime pajamas for day jackets and outerwear, in this challenge the Belgian designer most definitely succeeded. That is, of course, provided there are no sleepwalkers out there with black, orange and paisley pajamas in their closet.

The result of this unorthodoxy? Astoundingly, one of the most elegant shows Van Noten has done in recent memory.

It’s owed mainly to how the pajama style was worked: luxuriously, in soft and heavy brushed jacquards, cashmere and double quilted silks and velvets.

It gave many of the looks a regal quality – albeit a very hip one.

As ever, Van Noten used contradictions as the dynamic of his wardrobe.

The more feminine types of fabrics and tonal colors, as well as tight pants, contrasted with boyish, slouchy forms of the loose jackets and sweaters – creating plays on volume.

Meanwhile, revelers at Issey Miyake clutched invitations wrapped in the gold fabric used in thermal emergency blankets.

The insulating theme carried on in the clothes, with the design team’s exploration of a lightweight, heat-retaining wardrobe – so say the program notes to enable “a freer lifestyle during the winter months.”

Jackets and sporty overcoats with loose silhouettes used recycled polyester sandwiching thermal fleece fabric in russet and gray.

The box was also ticked for the house’s cutting edge fabric technology: A translucent film was laminated onto jersey on ensembles, many of which sported signature utilitarian detailing like side pockets and zippers.

However, all of these were upstaged by the show’s defining look: the vibrant bold, silver and bronze emergency blanket fabric which appeared in over a dozen of the looks that had revelers wide-eyed.

There were a few hits – like one great A-line, hooded black raincoat with space-age gold lining.

Sadly, with the all-over metallic hues, and pant line that distorted the leg shape – it often drowned out the human silhouette. Some of the looks came across busy and a little garish – if, undeniably practical.

Around 80 menswear shows are scheduled in Paris over the next five days, drawing to a close Sunday with the eagerly awaited first Saint Laurent collection by Hedi Slimane, famed for his super-tight, skinny tailoring.

Credited with revolutionizing menswear during his seven years at Dior from 2000 to 2007, Slimane teamed jackets cut short with narrow trousers in an androgynous, pencil-thin look so popular even legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld shed 45 kg to squeeze into a Slimane suit.





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